They call their Village Banking group Strong Women—and they are strong indeed. Fifteen women in Cap Haitian, Haiti’s second city, supporting each other as friends and as guarantors for each other’s microenterprise loan commitments.
Singing and clapping, in August they greeted John Hatch, the founder of FINCA, and Rupert Scofield, FINCA’s President and CEO, during their 4-day tour of FINCA’s operations in Haiti. “This group of women have been together for years” said Maudeline Jean Pierre, the group’s loan officer. “Their businesses vary—from farming small plots to second-hand clothing sales—and FINCA loans give them the working capital they need to manage and grow their businesses.”
With few natural resources, Haiti’s success is dependent on the ingenuity of its people.
Nouniesse Jacques joined the group four years ago when her small grocery stall was not doing well. She used her cooking talents and FINCA’s support to expand into grilled chicken sales in the evenings. Now, up to 60 customers a night enjoy her secret barbecue recipe and the business supports her family.
The stories are similar across Haiti, where people are still rebuilding their lives since the devastating 2010 earthquake. With few natural resources, Haiti’s success is dependent on the ingenuity of its people. Microfinance plays a huge role in this success today—through the creation of jobs—and also tomorrow, because the children of our clients are able to finish more years of school than their parents.
Thanks to significant support from donors, as well as partners such as the US Dept. of Agriculture, FINCA’s program in Haiti is growing rapidly—from 2,000 entrepreneurs to more than 14,000 in the last 18 months. Village Banking is an important mainstay of the program, but we have added agricultural loans and individual business loans to serve new types of clients, such as Duckensia Zapata Fleurival, a young woman whose growing business collects and recycles the plastic water bottles that litter the country. We are also exploring new ways to help clients—such as loans for the purchase of good quality home water filters to save people from having to purchase filtered water.